What is your ENOUGH for today?
Not tomorrow. Not next week.
Not (God forbid) next fall, when we'll likely be faced with sending kids to school in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic and little guidance for safety -- or -- continuing to home school kids while somehow getting work done for the jobs we somehow still hope to have so we can pay the bills we DEIFNITELY will still have.
I remember someone saying once the only certainties in life are death and taxes.
I sure hope there's more to it than that, but sometimes I wonder.
So I'm thinking today about what's getting me through each day. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Just today.
The jokes about a mug of coffee handing off to an evening glass of wine have some truth to them, but I think survival and endurance in the midst of a pandemic has more to it than simple chemical compounds of caffeine or alcohol, as neither of these on its own addresses fully our unmet needs, and relied upon exclusively, both of which can make us either unbearably energetic and jumpy or unbearably addicted, which is no joking matter.
No, I'm talking here about learning what is enough to get through the day on perhaps a more spiritual level. A moment that has the flavor of ritual, and indulgence, and peace, and some effort of preparation.
For me, that ENOUGH for the day is Magic Iced Coffee. No, this idea or recipe is not my own. It comes from style blogger Kendi Everyday, who I've been reading not quite every day - but close to it - for about 10 years.
Style blogs and influencers of all stripes have been shown to be reckless drivers of consumption, and irredeemably tone deaf in the midst of pandemics and national protests on racism - and yet at their best style blogs can provide a piece, for me, of that moment of enough for each day: peaceful looking photography, outfits that don't involve pajamas, and sneaky little tips that can find their way into my daily routines, making space for something extra special that might just mean I can find ENOUGH for this moment.
I've made Magic Iced Coffee every three days or so this summer. I bought a cheap but functional French Press at Target, which is much easier to clean than my previous homemade cold press coffee method involving big plastic pitchers and dirty cheesecloth.
Every three days I scoop out the grounds and start again, adding 2/3 cup ground coffee beans, a few spoonfuls of brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon.
I add three cups of water and place it in the refrigerator door overnight. The next month, I push down the plunger in the French Press and pour it over ice, adding milk.
On lucky days, I put it in the pretty round-bottomed glass that Kendi mentioned on her blog, and I sit in our living room for a few minutes and read the news with a tassel blanket. Most mornings this ritual is interrupted by a need to get a glass of milk for a thirsty little 4-year-old, or answer the Pavlovian bell of the washing machine, or for some other reason - but nonetheless the ritual persists.
Some mornings I pour the ice and coffee into a travel cup and drive to church, drinking the sweet and spicy cold coffee as I watch the cornfields fly by.
Most days, by the evening I am tired. The day has not brought an end to the suffering of Covid 19, has not brought an end to the uncertainty about the future, to the loss of the familiar routines of summer baseball, the neighborhood wading pool, or the Minnesota State Fair.
Still, I've learned not to drink more than one cup per day of the iced coffee. If I drink it after noon, I'm wired all night long. Sleep is elusive, and sleep, too, is essential, even with the onslaught of pandemic dreams.
One cup is enough. The ritual even of cleaning the French press on the third day; it is enough. I am worthy of a well-brewed, sweet cup of cold brew. I am worthy of a moment of deep breath to drink it peacefully. Most days, it is enough.
I'm reminded here of the Exodus 16 story of the Israelites receiving their daily manna. When they first received this gift of bread from the sky, they complained that they needed meat, too. So God provided quail in the evenings, and enough manna on the day before the Sabbath to gather then, so they would not work on the Sabbath.
Verse 17 says that some people gathered more, and others gathered less. Perhaps it was like our early Pandemic rush on toilet paper.
But when they measured out their amounts, verse 18 says, those who had gathered much had nothing left over, and those who had gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. When some tried to save extra overnight, denying themselves of enough for the day, it bred worms and became foul, verse 20 says.
This story of manna has lessons for our lives. Lessons about what is enough, and how sometimes when we take more than we need, we are taking more than is truly enough. And when sometimes we try to deny ourselves of the present moment to prepare for the future, we miss out on the moment of the present God has intended for us.
Verse 31 describes the manna, the bread that came from heaven.
You may imagine it as a tasteless, slight communion wafer, but the Bible says it is much more than that.
Verse 31 says it was like flavorful coriander seed, brushed with the sweetness of honey.
The enough was not merely about sustenance, but about spice and sweetness and flavor. God did not merely give them bread enough to survive, God desired that in that ENOUGH, they would taste a bit of indulgence, pleasure, sweetness and spice.
Perhaps it's frivolous to suggest my Magic Iced Coffee is my manna from heaven, and I don't care if it's petty because I know in this time of uncertainty and fear and death, I need to soak in whatever ENOUGH is for me in this moment.
What is it for you?